Lim’s tireless SARS CoV-2 sequencing work advances Arizona public safety, earning him ASU Alumni’s faculty research award

Efrem Lim
Efrem Lim is a researcher in the Biodesign Center for Fundamental and Applied Microbiomics and ASU's School of Life Sciences.

Efrem Lim is the recipient of the ASU Alumni Association’s 2022 Faculty Research Achievement Award for sequencing and tracking SARS CoV-2 variants for the state since the start of the pandemic. Over the past few years, he has played a pivotal role in COVID-19 research to advance public safety. 

A virologist and assistant professor, at the Biodesign Center for Fundamental and Applied Microbiomics and the School of Life Sciences. He is also the principal investigator of the Center for Viral Genomics at ASU, where his team investigates the human virome in health and disease.

In early 2020, Lim and his team first identified a SARS-CoV-2 mutation that had never been found before. His lab uses a state-of-the-art technology called next-generation sequencing to rapidly read through the 30,000 letters of the SARS-CoV-2 virus genetic code. Shortly after the data was published in the “Journal of Virology,” the research attracted worldwide interest from the scientific community and the World Health Organization.

Lim and his team now sequence several thousands of genomes every week. Recently, his lab crossed a milestone of 40,000 COVID-19 cases sequenced. Through their statewide surveillance efforts, they provide crucial information on emerging variants of concern to county, state and federal public health agencies in real time.

Outside COVID research, the Lim lab combines molecular virology and bioinformatic approaches to understand the relationship with the virome and infant development, as well as how mother-infant relationships impact the virome in HIV disease. Additionally, his lab studies how metagenomic changes affect transplant outcome and how viruses temper the homeostasis of the urinary tract in urinary disease.

Lim will receive the award March 17 at the ASU Founders’ Day celebration, a signature event honoring the changemakers whose pioneering achievements and visionary philanthropy have shaped ASU’s spirit of excellence and innovation.